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Verbum et Verbum / Mí­cheál Fanning

Verbum et Verbum

By: Mí­cheál Fanning

€8.88
"A 20th century Irish St. John of the Cross, Fanning picks up the mystical Irish where AE had left it some sixty years ago and gives vent to agape with a boldness of execution beyond George Russell's wildest dreams. Verbum et Verbum, the title poem, is heartfelt, intense, courageous and a determined leap forward in what was once the thoroughfare of Irish poetry. It simply cannot be discarded." ...
ISBN 1 897648 89 8
Pub Date Monday, November 30, -0001
Page Count 96
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"A 20th century Irish St. John of the Cross, Fanning picks up the mystical Irish where AE had left it some sixty years ago and gives vent to agape with a boldness of execution beyond George Russell's wildest dreams. Verbum et Verbum, the title poem, is heartfelt, intense, courageous and a determined leap forward in what was once the thoroughfare of Irish poetry. It simply cannot be discarded."

Peter Van de Kamp


Verbum et Verbum is the first part of the trilogy Beyond Our Fears: Part II - The Separation of Grey Clouds (Salmon 2002), Part III - Homage (Salmon 2006)

Anne Lucey of The Examiner has described the Verbum et Verbum sequence as being '... amongst Micheal's best poetry yet ... the constraints of the intricate verse form suits him'.

'In the best of these poems Micheal Fanning relives a South Kerry childhood dominated by the sea, "the great comforter". Images are simple and memorable: 'the horse gallops/into the lungs of the wind'. He moves from the subtle colours of this bird-filled landscape to intense scenes of hardship: a homeless Ethiopian laments the family he has lost to famine and typhus; we listen to the grief of a body riven with cancer. Fanning depicts early monk scribes who painted otters and griffins to illuminate their manuscripts, much as he seeks images to make sense of a world torn by violence, hurt and unspoken feelings. Grappling with issues of suffering and faith, he constructs his own stone wall of understanding, cementing it with a host of Classical and early Christian allusions: 'The Maker arranges nouns, verbs, adjectives... And places stones to structure/the storm strafed wall'."

Katie Donovan

Mí­cheál Fanning

Mícheál Fanning practised as a medical doctor in County Kerry. As well as his books from Salmon, he has published sveral chapbooks and translations, as well as collections of poetry in the Irish language  which are published by Coiscéim under his Irish name - Mícheál Ó Fionnáin. He founded and directed Féile na Bealtaine, an arts and politics festival, held annually in West Kerry.  Mícheál died on Christmas Eve 2010 at the age of 56.


Obituary: The Irish Times, Saturday 8th January 2011


DOCTOR MICHEÁL FANNING: DR MICHEÁL Fanning, who died at the age of 56 on Christmas Eve, will be remembered in Dingle, Co Kerry, as much more than a well-loved general practitioner in the town for nearly 30 years. He was also a community activist, a prolific poet in English and Irish, and the founder and director of Féile na Bealtaine, the Dingle peninsula's annual arts festival.

He wrote poetry all his life. Prof Tom Walsh, his friend and fellow medical student, told the funeral congregation that "if you borrowed his notes, as I did, you were just as likely to find 15 lines of blank verse as suggested diagnostic tests".

He wrote in both Irish and English, with his final collection Ghost Trawler published last November. It included some of his earlier work in English as well as new poetry in which he contemplated mortality and life after death. The Separation of Grey Clouds , published by Salmon Poetry in 2002, took its title from a six-page poem describing a day in Dingle: the slight grey of the morning; and the sounds, sights and rhythms of school, work and life in the town. His own favourite collection was Verbum et Verbum , published by Salmon in 1998.

Above all, he was synonymous with féile, held each year at the end of April and culminating in a spectacular parade through Dingle on the May bank holiday Monday. It has grown into one of the most vibrant regional arts festivals in Ireland since it started in 1994. He described it as an arts and politics festival, since the programme included lectures, debates and book launches as well as a wide variety of arts events.

His ambitions for it grew year by year. Last year, the festival brought the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Liam Óg Ó Floinn to St Mary's Church in Dingle for a memorable performance of Shaun Davey's Granuaile and The Brendan Voyage attended by a capacity audience.

The night before, soprano Cara O'Sullivan, accompanied by Finghin Collins on piano, gave a recital in the church in Ballyferriter. It didn't start until nearly 9pm because of Saturday Vigil Mass in the church, so many of the audience also caught the French gypsy music in one of the pubs.

In keeping with the eclectic nature of the whole festival, the final event was sheepdog trials.

Micheál Fanning was born in Ballinskelligs, a twin and one of a family of eight. His father was a Garda sergeant - hence there were regular moves and he went to primary schools in Knocknagoshel, Annascaul and Castlegregory before winning a scholarship to St Brendan's College, Killarney. He studied medicine at University College Dublin, where he was a Simon volunteer. Hospital jobs followed in Bantry, Monaghan, Tralee, Derry and Sussex before he did his GP training in Wales and returned to Kerry to set up in practice in Dingle in 1982.

He was involved in much of the town's infrastructure and development, including the founding of the local credit union.

His approach to medicine had a touch of the spiritual about it.In an age when many GPs have all but given up doing house calls, he continued to believe in the value of visiting patients in their own homes. He often sought to go beyond the purely medical in helping his patients to cope; he encouraged them to think in terms of fulfilment in their lives rather than searching for cures. Appropriately, his medical bag and the lamp he took with him on isolated house calls were offered as gifts at his funeral Mass.

But he was also a very modern doctor. He set up, as a pilot project, one of the Republic's first primary care teams in 1998. He became a GP trainer in 2003 and he hosted an annual GP medical conference in Dingle since 1998.

As a doctor, he also made his mark abroad. He worked as a volunteer doctor with Concern in Ethiopia in 1984-85. In September 1994 he went with his brother, Brendan to an orphanage in Gradinari in the province of Giurgiu, Romania to provide medical supervision for dental treatment of immunocompromised children.

In the absence of a general anaesthetic facility, he developed a sedation protocol which is still used in dental treatment.

In 2008, he was invited to assess a local development project in Lesotho.

Shortly before his death, although gravely ill, he enjoyed what he described as one of the happiest days of his life - the wedding of his daughter Ruth.

He is survived by his wife Nóirín, son Peter, daughters Ruth and Rachel, and son-in-law Lorcan.



Other Titles from Mí­cheál Fanning

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